Russian security chief calls opposition leader to ‘duel’

In this file photo taken on March 27, 2017 Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and the National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov take part in a gala evening marking the Day of Russia's National Guard in Moscow. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018

Russian security chief calls opposition leader to ‘duel’

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close ally and chief of the National Guard on Tuesday challenged Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to a “duel” and threatened to turn him into “steak.”
Wearing his uniform, Viktor Zolotov spouted threats and insults in a video message to Navalny, who last month alleged corruption in the National Guard and is currently in jail for violating anti-protest legislation.
“You, Mr. Navalny, have never faced payback,” Zolotov said, after rubbishing Navalny’s corruption expose as slander. “Nobody has given you a quality kick in the ass. In a way you feel it in your liver.”
“I simply call you to a duel, to the ring, to the tatami, to wherever. And I promise to make a juicy beefsteak out of you in just a few minutes,” he said in the video posted on the National Guard’s official website.
Navalny in late August published a video he addressed to the rank and file employees of the National Guard, the agency tasked with dispersing Russian protests.
Agency leadership, he tells the soldiers, “literally takes food out of your mouth for profit.”
The expose alleges that the agency purchases poor quality food for its soldiers for over-inflated prices.
Navalny is not set to finish his 30-day jail term until late this month. His team however reacted to Zolotov’s message with a mixture of horror and ridicule.
The video has “open, very serious threats,” said Navalny’s former head of campaign staff Leonid Volkov on Twitter, adding that Zolotov “must have forgotten” that Navalny is locked up and can’t reply.
“They can’t even hire good PR people with their stolen billions,” wrote Lyubov Sobol, who works for Navalny’s anti-corruption center. “Six minutes of threats and not a single word to refute facts and evidence in the investigation.”

Previously Navalny had alleged Zolotov himself — a former head of Putin’s security detail who was appointed to the current newly-created post in 2016 — was “very rich” and that his family owned several luxury properties.
Zolotov in his video said that he was “not a poor man” but went on to accuse Navalny of being a “rotten” American agent.
“When you were still using the potty, I had served in the army, was an outstanding worker of Communist labor, worked in industry and then went into business,” Zolotov said.
“And who are you, Navalny, I want to understand what you’re made of,” he said.
“It’s clear you’ve been made in an American test tube... you are tasked with pouring mud over everything... to destabilize the country’s political and economic situation,” he said.
“You have no country, no Fatherland.”
Zolotov added that “if you use offensive or slanderous language against me and members of my family, I promise you that before I step over you and wipe my feet on you, I will host a show for all employees of the Russian National Guard.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to endorse Zolotov’s message, though he denied that it was approved by Putin.
“Sometimes you can use any measures against blatant slander,” he told journalists, adding that the Kremlin does not see it as a threat of physical violence.

Rohingya leaders to visit Myanmar

Updated 16 November 2018

Rohingya leaders to visit Myanmar

  • Community leaders will check on preparations for repatriation
  • Refugees who fled tents fearing forced repatriation have started to return

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: A group of Rohingya community leaders will go to Rakhine, Myanmar, to witness developments on the ground there, said Bangladesh Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali on Thursday evening in Dhaka.

Ali was talking to the journalists after his briefing to diplomats in Dhaka over the Rohingya repatriation and forthcoming general election. He said that during the briefing session diplomats came up with the idea of sending the Rohingya community leaders (Majhi) to witness the practical developments for repatriation.

“We agreed with this idea,” said Bangladesh Foreign Minister.

A group of community leaders will check the preparations initiated by Myanmar government and will brief their fellow Rohingyas after returning Bangladesh.

Ali said that there is a misconception among a few stakeholders that Bangladesh was trying to send back Rohingyas against their will.

“If we wanted to send the refugees forcibly, we won’t have allowed them in our country. We have shown a humanitarian gesture to them, so there is no question of sending them back forcibly,” Ali said.

“We will not send a single one of the refugees against their will. Those who will repatriate will go on their own will,” he added.

Talking to Arab News, Abul Kalam, Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner of Bangladesh said, they have not stopped the repatriation process. It will remain open and if any of the Rohingyas wants to go back home, Bangladesh authorities will initiate repatriation for him or her.

Commenting on the failure of the first attempt at repatriation Kalam said, “Now we need to create more pressure on Myanmar for the completion of some specific tasks to build confidence among the Rohingyas. In the next Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting, we will put up these issues after more scrutiny.”
However, the next JWG meeting date is yet to be fixed, Kalam said.

After a week of tension over feared repatriation, on Friday everything was peaceful in the Rohingya camps at Cox’s Bazar. The refugees who fled from their tents fearing forceful repatriation started returning to their shanties.

“The Myanmar authority wanted to deceive us in the name of so-called repatriation process. If we would have returned on Thursday, they (Myanmar) would never granted our citizenship rights,” said Mohammad Lutfor Rahman, 53, of Jamtoli camp, Ukhia, who fled from his own tent after hearing that he was listed as a returnee in the first group.

Why did the Rohingyas refuse to take the offer to go back home, Rahman was asked. He said, “Myanmar authorities have declared that the repatriated Rohingyas will be kept in the camps for 5 months or more, guarded by armed law enforcers and there were no clear guidelines if we can go back to our original places or villages. So, what is point of accepting a camp life proposal in Rakhine?”

Another refugee, Syed Alam, 37, of Kutupalang camp, told Arab News, “Before any kind of repatriation, our top most priority is the guarantee of citizenship and once it is granted many of our problems will be minimized.”

However, talking about the future course of repatriation, United Nations Human Rights agency, UNHCR spokesperson in Bangladesh, Fairas Al-Khateeb, said, “We will continue to assist the Bangladesh government in assessing the voluntariness for repatriation. Bangladesh and Myanmar have made the deal of repatriation bilaterally, we can’t say when it will actually take place.”